A man gunned down at a Clearwater party seemed to make an impressive recovery. Friends and family swarmed Dennis Miyawa's bedside. His buddy posted a video on YouTube of Miyawa thanking everyone for their support.
But within days, his fever spiked, and he was fighting for his life again.
March 20, Miyawa and two other men were shot by Alexander Epstein at a going-away party. Benjamin Kubes, 20, and Ibrahim Kamara, 22, were killed. Miyawa, 20, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg with life-threatening injuries. Epstein, 19, was later shot dead by undercover deputies.
"For a 20-year-old to be having fun with his friends one minute and to be fighting for his life the next minute is unbelievable," said Miyawa's aunt, Janet Dowell, 48.
Miyawa, who teaches kids at a Largo recreation center, was shot three times. One bullet passed through his arm and another went through his side, Dowell said. The other apparently damaged part of his digestive tract, she said.
Miyawa's father, Charles, has kept a vigil by his son's side. Dowell and her sister have been taking turns watching Miyawa so his father could go to his Largo home for a few hours at a time, she said. Miyawa's mother died in 2003 from cancer, Dowell said.
Miyawa has been tough through the ordeal. He hasn't made a fuss at the hospital, even when he was in pain.
"His eyebrows furrowed, but he wouldn't complain," she said.
Miyawa initially seemed to make a miraculous recovery. He was cracking jokes, visiting with friends and watching The Simpsons. Then, last week the infection set in. Miyawa's temperature spiked to 104.
Dowell said she was afraid she might lose her nephew.
But Miyawa started to feel better this week. Monday, he was able to eat solid food. Dowell fed him a few bites of meatloaf, corn and rice.
And by Wednesday his fever was down to 98.4 degrees.
"Hopefully, now, we are on the road to recovery," Dowell said.
Lorri Helfand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4155.